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Lazarillo, inclusion for all

App that helps people with visual and mobility disabilities navigate through the city providing relevant information on locations and routes

Photo of Rene Espinoza
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People with disabilities face difficulties to be autonomous because they don’t always have access to information about their environment. Nowadays in the United States there are around 3.2 million people with visual impairment and it is estimated that this figure will continue to grow, reaching 9 million by 2050 according to a study by the University of Southern California Roski Eye Institute, besides, worldwide there are over 253 million people living with visual disabilities, in order all of them be fully included in society their interactions with their surroundings needs to be support by technological means.

Our project is to create accessible and interactive experiences in every corner of the world, and in this opportunity we want to use the platform that city of tomorrow provides us for develop in Indianapolis, our  application empowers people living with disabilities and also, helps everyone's experience gets improve. This system has  over 90,000 users on 24 countries -even some of them are Indianapolis residents- which use it for free as permanent assistance. 

Our mobile app is available worldwide, use multiple maps databases and preexisting information to navigate cities delivering high-usability services developed directly with people living with disabilities. We have a routing system that by voice messages guides everyone who needs it, giving information about streets, public and private services, public transport, and more. This service can be improve through our mapping platform adding more information on public venues and also integrate with transportations systems. 

Our proposal for this challenge is that we will add our indoor positioning system for guidance and orientation within the Michigan Central Station, which is 500,000 square feet (46,000 meters). Our team has built similar buildings before where our system can provide guidance and help people living with vision, visual impairment or mobility problems.

For people with visual impairment or with low vision, the application provides audio information while moving through the building, helping them to better orientate and have reference information as they move, it also provides tools so that they can easily search for specific locations inside the building or even near by bathrooms or other important services, so that we can customize through a platform on which we map on top of that and LazarilloApp collects that information when the user is inside or near the building. For people with mobility disabilities, the application can also display maps and can provide accessible routes to any point within the building using an intelligent algorithm so that the user can have a specific route wherever they are easily within the building. 

Our proposal will also allow us to synchronize with train services when they are enabled and will also work in English and Spanish for the Hispanic community, for future extensions the availability of other languages suggested by the community can be integrated into the service
So that we can do this, we install infrastructure so that we can algorithm using bluetooth beacons, we can estimate the user's location. We have already installed it in more than 65 buildings, from university to hospitals and public buildings. In addition, we already have users in Detroit, who can use these implementations and the application can also work in Detroit city, so that it will provide guidance not only within the building but also for users to reach the building.

We see that this solution provides a lot of usability for more users, so we will provide API so that other applications can connect as a service also to public institutions if they wish, so that the infrastructure can be used by different applications and create different experience to different users, there are also changes in the design in the future, the platform can easily update that information so that the application can have the update information they want or provide messages inside when something unexpected happens or map the emergency exit in case neccesary.

How will your solution benefit residents, workers, or visitors in the Michigan Central Station impact area? (1,000 characters)

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Fully Scaled - you have already scaled your solution and are exploring new use cases

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

Lazarillo app was launched in September 2016, it has grown organically to 140.000 users and 16.000 plus monthly active users. We had done survey to measure the improvement of autonomy on 2017 89% and 2018 92% declare they improve their autonomy with Lazarillo. A mayor insight is that the user experience of current apps for public transportation don't provide enough detailed audio guidance and also they relay mostly in visual directions so they are not so accessible for people visually impaired

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Our team have a technology-business mix, is leaded by René CEO Electrical Engineer with 6 years working on assistive technologies. Jorge CTO with a master degree on computer science manage 4 full stack developers, Miguel UX Accessibility Leader, been blind himself and with 10 years experience teaching assistive technologies. Álvaro CMO leads Sales with vast experience in social startup. Jonathan COO, Industrial engineer leads Operations team and integrators partners, second time founder.

Size of your team or organization

  • 11-50

Team or Organization URL

Are you submitting as a student team?

  • No

Are you submitting as a team from the Impact Area?

  • No

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

50,000 USD to enable the Michigan Center with LazarilloApp for blind, visually impaired and motor disability users 50,000 USD to systematize user feedback and update the platform with this new information

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

During the pilot phase, we will implement the LazarilloApp service with all its navigation functions inside the Michigan Central Station, which will allow people with visual disabilities to access structural information and services inside the building through voice messages, in addition people with motor disabilities will be able to access information on accessible routes inside the building and whoever needs a guide will also be able to access this through their smartphone, if necessary people can also identify critical information such as emergency exits . LazarilloApp already has users in Michigan so they will be informed as soon as possible of this new functionality and will be guided with the app from their destinations to the Michigan Central Station. At this stage we will consider a test with beta users with feedback to deliver a service appropriate to their requirements, then the service will be updated and the official launch will be made.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

We will calculate the success of the pilot in relation to the increase in the number of downloads of the app and the greater influx of users in the heat maps in relation to the traffic from and inside the Michigan Central Station

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

This project can be supported with two payment alternatives, the first is that the Michigan Central Station pays a monthly fee of 1.2K USD or 14.4K per year. And the second alternative is that each company that provides services inside pays a subscription for being advertised in LazarilloApp. Lazarillo currently has a B2B business model that keeps working with more than 15 public and private institutions making their locations accessible.

Social Media

Fb, IG and Twitter: @LazarilloApp Linkedin: lazarillo-tec-spa


Join the conversation:

Photo of Boratha Tan

Hi Rene Espinoza thanks for submitting your idea! I am part of the facilitation team for City:One. I was wondering why your proposal is limited to the MCS, and not neighboring businesses and large commercial buildings. I was also wondering if having companies pay the app is a good way to expand the app's coverage (it does not seem like something businesses would do). Can you help me understand a bit better?

Photo of Rene Espinoza

Hi Boratha,
Lazarillo is not limited to MCS it actually works in every city using different data sources. But the things is that we can add layers of information, in this case the indoor building.
You can try Lazarillo, download here:

About the business model the app is free to use for the user and we sell our wayfinding solution to businesses, this help them provide a more accessible service. We had already work with Universities making their campuses more accessible, public buildings, hospitals, banks, museum and now piloting retails stores. This is how we currently sustain our startup, ADA compliance is something businesses are considering more and more.
We also see other ways to monetize in which the business owner can connect their own app with our indoor positioning technology we setup, for other use cases.

Hope this make things more clear.
I am happy to answer more questions.